New Species of Hedge-Nettle Discovered in South Carolina

Posted on December 9, 2014

A new species of hedge-nettle or woundwort has been discovered in South Carolina. The plant was found in two different locations both within 50 miles of Charleston, S.C.

The new species has been named Stachys caroliniana. The plant - now one of about 300 known species in the genus Stachys - was discovered by University of South Carolina professor John Nelson and alumnus Douglas Rayner. Rayner collected the first specimen in 1977 and Nelson, who studies Stachys, came across Rayner's dried specimen and later came across some similar plants in the wild.

Nelson says in a statement, "I was just wandering along, the absent-minded botanist, and I thought, 'Well, that's a hedge-nettle, it's definitely Stachys, no doubt about it.' And since it's a Stachys and I'm here at the edge of this pond, it must be Stachys floridana, which is a very common weed that grows in people's backyards, including mine up here in Columbia."

Upon closer inspection Nelson realized it was another example of the plant Rayner had found years ago. After examining other specimens online he was able to determine that Stachys floridana was a new species to science. A research paper on the plant was published here in the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

This photograph of Stachys caroliniana was taken on Cat Island, where the plant is currently thriving.

More from Science Space & Robots